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US Intelligence Unit Launches $50k Speech Recognition Competition 62

Posted by samzenpus
from the unseen-mechanized-ear dept.
coondoggie writes The $50,000 challenge comes from researchers at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The competition, known as Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments (ASpIRE), hopes to get the industry, universities or other researchers to build automatic speech recognition technology that can handle a variety of acoustic environments and recording scenarios on natural conversational speech.

Comment: Re:About time! (Score 1) 125

by ShaunC (#48423947) Attached to: Court Shuts Down Alleged $120M Tech Support Scam

Surveying friends and family (including a couple hundred facebook friends), calls at first seemed random, but in more recent months, appear to specifically be targeting people over 50. The most recent calls have asked for me by name. This leads me to believe that they're using someone's pilfered (or purchased?) address list. Has AARP had any breaches lately?

Curious, what type of lines are the calls coming in on? There's a huge list of folks, mostly over 50, listed by name, freely available to scammers... The White Pages. Many of them are online and easy to spider. Most telcos still print the physical books, too, although you have to request one now instead of having them dropped off by default. Since these directories are comprised primarily of landlines, it's a safe bet that whoever answers most of the calls will be a baby boomer.

Comment: Re:Murder-suicide? (Score 1) 382

by ShaunC (#48423721) Attached to: Firefox Signs Five-Year Deal With Yahoo, Drops Google as Default Search Engine

No, but I know a lot of people who still use Yahoo Mail; they've had their accounts forever and aren't likely to change unless Yahoo Mail goes tits-up. They don't necessarily use Yahoo for search (yet), but their eyeballs are on a Yahoo property every single day. It would benefit both parties to this agreement if Yahoo placed a little Firefox promo somewhere in the Yahoo Mail interface, much as I often see promos for Chrome when I hit GMail and other Google services.

Comment: Re:False weather forecasting? (Score 1) 76

by ShaunC (#48374915) Attached to: US Weather System and Satellite Network Hacked

Early this morning, someone re-issued an old tornado watch from 2010, which was apparently distributed over official channels (not EAS, though). Everyone who saw it and possesses half a brain knew it was obviously a mistake of some kind, of course that didn't stop the news from making a big deal out of it.

+ - BrowserStack compromised?-> 3

Submitted by algofoogle
algofoogle (3905537) writes "While not yet confirmed to be a security breach, customers of BrowserStack have apparently received a facetious email claiming the service is shutting down. The language hints at a disgruntled employee or nefarious user, alleging that aspects of the Terms of Service are false, while also revealing apparently-sensitive internal information. Whether coincidental or in response to the email, BrowserStack.com is currently offline, stating that "we're performing some maintenance at the moment"."
Link to Original Source

Comment: I wonder... (Score 5, Interesting) 461

by ShaunC (#48346199) Attached to: Washington Dancers Sue To Prevent Identity Disclosure

Does the state's database only include actual strippers? In Ohio, police stole a woman's drivers license information and assigned it to an undercover officer, who then got hired on as a stripper as part of a sting operation. It sure would suck if, after being victimized by the police in that manner, a woman was then subjected to who knows what sort of harassment from a random citizen who just wanted to "pray for" her.

Comment: Re:If they're going literal.... (Score 1) 251

by ShaunC (#48327867) Attached to: Undersized Grouper Case Lands In Supreme Court

I wonder if anyone has ever been jailed under this statute as intended.

What, you mean like bankers and CxOs? Oh, my aching sides! Just like USA PATRIOT is used to arrest and imprison all sorts of terrorists, right? No, they use that to go after drug dealers, and SOX is leveraged to jail rogue fishermen, and in Florida they send out the SWAT teams to look for unlicensed barbers.

Come to think of it, yes, all of these laws probably are being used exactly as intended.

Comment: Re:Hardware Ponzi Scheme (Score 3, Insightful) 66

by ShaunC (#48313487) Attached to: Court Order: Butterfly Labs Bitcoins To Be Sold

It sounds like you lucked out. From everything I've read, the business plan is indeed a pyramid of sorts,

  1. Announce upcoming mining rig that beats everything on the market
  2. Begin taking pre-orders
  3. Use pre-order money to actually source the dream hardware you promoted in step 1
  4. Hardware arrives, use it yourself for several weeks to mine your own BTC while it's still profitable
  5. During this time, apologize to everyone who has placed orders and ensure them that delivery will be made soon
  6. Once your new top-of-the-line rigs are a few weeks out of date, order a new round of even better hardware
  7. Ship your rigs to your customers
  8. Repeat ad infinitum

That you actually managed to get some rigs that were still worth using is pretty nice. I guess they hadn't yet figured out how the mining hardware pyramid is supposed to work. The fact that people are still falling for this ploy after it's played out several times over in very public fashion is rather depressing, though.

Comment: Yes, their goal in life is to get me a job (Score 1) 253

by ShaunC (#48313255) Attached to: Tech Recruiters Defend 'Blacklists,' Lack of Feedback, Screening Techniques

The bottom line? Recruiters seem to pass the blame for some of the industry's most egregious errors on "junior recruiters and agencies," while insisting that their goal in life is to get you a job. How does that align with your experience?

Yes, their goal in life is to get me a job. The problem is that in the eyes of any recruiter I've spoken to in the last 5 years, "a job is a job," and if they get me any "job" then they feel entitled to some cut either from me or from the company they've attempted to place me with. Most recruiters would be satisfied if they got me hired on as a cashier at Walgreens, as long as they got a commission out of it.

I have a long background in IT dealing with everything from Apple IIs through multi-thousand desktop deployments; a development history that encompasses nearly 15 years of PHP (laugh if you like) with a prior foundation in C and C++; 10+ years MySQL, 9 years SQL Server/TSQL/DTS/SSIS; 7+ years at a multi-billion dollar enterprise with accompanying domain-specific knowledge in that industry. My resume spells out what I'm best at with no puffery or bullshit or buzzwords about things I don't do. I'm always open to a new opportunity that's somewhat commensurate to my experience and ability.

But what do recruiters call me about? Such promising opportunities as...

  • Desktop Support Tech at $7.40 an hour (really?)
  • Meter reading job for the local utility company (really?)
  • Numerous JQuery/HTML5 "rockstar" positions, especially ones 1500 miles away (dabbled a bit in basic Javascript but I don't claim it)
  • Visual C# and .NET jobs where SQL is a nice-to-have mentioned in passing (one MS technology is not all MS technologies)
  • Wireless Technician 100% travel ("the way they explained it to me is, you go around to airports and test the wifi")
  • SAP Developer with 5 years in each of ABC, DE, and FGH modules (I wouldn't know SAP if it shit in my cornflakes)

I've recently fielded a phone call about a senior GIS position for a trucking company. There is zero on my resume or any of my job site profiles to indicate that I'm at all familiar with GIS, mapping, or over the road logistics. Recruiter's end of the conversation was, paraphrased, "GIS is just like Google Maps, you've heard of Google Maps, right? You have data experience. I think they need someone who can put all their truck data on a map like Google Maps. I can get you an interview tomorrow! Are you available about 10?"

I don't do any of those things. I don't claim to do any of those things. I still get the phone calls, though, because hey, this guy is an IT person and that company is hiring for their IT department. Must be a perfect fit! Does it work this way for other industries as well? I mean, really, are there podiatrists out there who get recruiting calls about pediatrics? Are there recruiters calling up bartenders trying to place them as USDA inspectors? Do folks working in Accounts Payable get cold calls about calculus professor vacancies, because, y'know, it's all numbers 'n shit?

When I do get the occasional poke about something I'm qualified for and might be interested in, there's no depth to anything the recruiter knows. What's their setup like, lots of iron or are they heavy into virtualization? Are they doing a lot of ETL from incoming feeds or is it mostly OLTP from their own internal applications? Even simple questions like how big is their team? What might their salary offer be? Where is their office located? I might as well be asking the moon, I can go find the job posted on DICE.COM* or Monster or Indeed and get more details than what the recruiter can tell me. But by golly, they can get me an interview tomorrow! Am I available at 10 AM?

Recruiters used to provide a valuable service, or at least I believe that they did. There was a time when you could find a guy who would spend a few hours getting to know you, maybe take you out to lunch a couple of times, get a real feel for who you are and what you're qualified to do. And he had contacts at a lot of local companies, and he spent time taking their HR people out to lunch and taking inventory of who they needed. It's always been a middleman type of gig, but they used to spend time acting as an advocate for both sides.

These days, anyone with a Skype account and a paid LinkedIn profile is a "Virtual Recruiter." They don't give a flying fuck about you or me, or about the companies who are looking to hire. More likely than not, they aren't local to my city or to the hiring company's city; often they aren't even in the same country. Their only concern is that their skin stays in the game; for each opening they can find, they'll call up 50 candidates, most of whom aren't qualified, and then set up interviews for a dozen of those hoping that one of them sticks long enough that they can earn a commission.

At this point my general opinion about recruiters is fuck recruiters, especially virtual recruiters. I suppose that just as is the case with politicians and police, there must be some really good ones out there. I just haven't encountered any of them yet.

* Might as well mention Slashdot's mothership in the same breath as the competing services

Comment: Re:No shit (Score 4, Insightful) 131

by ShaunC (#48312065) Attached to: Shift Work Dulls Brain Performance

The article, and the actual study which requires a purchase of at least US$30 to view, do not appear to take the nature of the work into account. Shift work doesn't mean factory work or manual labor. Factory work is going to be exhausting no matter what the shift, right? From what I gather, the study is paying attention to the hours worked and not necessarily the work performed.

I spent about 5 years in a mostly nocturnal habit, doing development and sysadmin work remotely from my apartment. I'd wake up around 2 or 3 in the afternoon, shit/shower/shave, spend a couple of hours getting my food and coffee and watching a bit of TV, sit around working on things until around 2 or 3 AM, and then venture off into gaming or Slashdot or Fark or what have you (this was the late 90s and early 2000s) until I went to bed at 8 or 9 AM. Rinse and repeat. I enjoyed this schedule and in fact there's evidence that I thrived on this schedule. Being awake when nobody else is, there are few distractions, I can focus on what needs to be done while the majority of my fellows and users are asleep. Lack of interruption is a treasure.

Then I moved into the enterprise doing development and DBA stuff. Almost 8 years getting up at 6 AM most days, showing up to work tired half the time, having to suck down several cups of coffee prior to being fully awake at all. The story, always the same. Despite any weariness or necessity for caffeine, I still accomplish my best work by far and away prior to lunch, and then attempt to ride the day out until 5:30 hits. The morning is my productive time, after lunch I mostly exist to put out fires, sit in on meetings of lower importance where I'm barely a stakeholder, and plan out the actual work that I'll be doing tomorrow morning. I dislike the schedule because I know that once I get home and the sky grows dark I'll be picking up my second wind and going straight back into a work frame of mind.

My own personal rhythm thrives at night, this has always been true and remains so despite any schedule change you might throw at me. Even with a normal business hours gig in the enterprise, I've still probably done some of my best work from home (after hours but salaried, whatever I accomplish tonight I don't have to fuck with in the office tomorrow) than I've done in the office. I would be, and have been, way more productive if my work schedule was 8:30 PM to 5:30 AM. Was that physically killing me or dulling my mental performance faster than running 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM? It sure doesn't feel like it.

I wonder if I could parlay my penchant for overnights into some sort of International Ops Lead scenario? I'd love to be awake and cranking around the same time that the offshore teams are doing whatever they do/don't.

Comment: Re:I hate these "get out the vote campaigns (Score 1) 468

by ShaunC (#48285597) Attached to: Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

Is it required in Canada that you pre-register in person? In my jurisdiction in the US, you can just fill out a form and send it by mail or fax. I moved last year and had to update my registration. I filled out the form online (hard copy still has to be mailed or faxed) and it even let me print a temporary card prepopulated with my precinct and district information. I had the real card back in the mail 3 or 4 days later.

Comment: Re:West Virginia too (Score 1) 468

by ShaunC (#48285539) Attached to: Boo! The House Majority PAC Is Watching You

The problem is that with the US system, you cannot vote blank.

I don't think I've ever had a problem doing this, I just don't select any candidate in a particular race. Of course I have no way to know that the machine doesn't interpret that as a vote for Cthulu, but I have to place some amount of trust in the system.

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